Who believes in "Creationism"?

In a recent conversation I maintained that “creationism” (meaning biblical literalism regarding Genesis as opposed to evolutionary science) is a minority position among Christians. And that it is primarily a fundamentalist Protestant American belief. But when challenged I find myself unable to offer any real proof. My google-fu apparently is insufficient.

Please help me – on a worldwide basis, how many Christians are “creationists”? What denominations hold these beliefs, and which others do not? What are their actual numbers or percentages of Christians as a whole? I’m looking here for actual cites with numbers, not for widely held beliefs (that, like mine, I am embarassed to find are unsupported).

And also, please-- this is not a debate about the relative merits of these belief systems. Only a search for numbers holding them.

You’re going to have a hard time getting concrete numbers because a large number of people probably don’t actually give a crap about the issue one way or another, including people who count themselves “Christians”. It matters very little to the average person’s day-to-day life whether God waved a magic wand and created all the animals, or whether they evolved. Thus, they don’t really think about it. But people don’t really want to admit they don’t think about it, so they will adopt some “belief” when asked on a survey. A belief which will probably come out different dependent on the context of the survey.

At least in terms of official church doctrine, more than half of all Christians worldwide certainly belong to groups that do not require or stress Creationism. Slightly more than half of all Christians are Roman Catholic, and Catholicism is not literalist with regard to biblical creation accounts.

Now, I’m sure that there are many Catholics that do believe that the biblical account of creation is literal; however, this is not a matter of doctrine.

If you go to the American Midwest you’ll be astonished at the number of people who sincerely believe in dogmatic, by the book Creationism or some equally absurd interpretation thereof. The Catholic Church has long given up that position, but there are still groups of hard-core, pre-Vatican II Catholics who try to adhere to the literal interpretation of the Bible despite the paradoxes within.


Thanks, that’s a start. Who else is “non literalist”? European Christians? Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists? Some of each?

I doubt this is a random distribution. It seems there must be some “clumping” and those “clumps” can be at least approximated in names/denominations and numbers.

Most “mainline” American protestant churches are non-literalist. This includes Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and some sorts of Baptists. Many of the members of these churches will say that they are creationists if they are asked on a survey. It’s hard to say what they believe in, because the answers on the surveys change depending on what they ask.

When I wrote the OP I expected to be swiftly revealed as a fumbling incompetant, unable to do his own research. Now though (and I say this with all respect and gratitude for the submissions) I find that I am not alone. The responses above are identical to my own original statement, which is to say, long on supposition but short on citations.

When challenged, I was unable to support my assertions (that fervent creationists who outright reject evolution in favor of biblical literalism are a minority of Christians). I am still hoping for something more specific. Like, what is a “mainline” Protestant? What does a “mainline” Methodist call him/her-self? How many of them are there?

Perhaps this can be attacked from another direction. I seem to recall that these denominations have higher levels of organization. Don’t individual Baptist churches ‘belong’ to some kind of larger association of Baptists? And the others, to their own? Like Catholic churches are part of worldwide Catholicism. Do these larger associations have position papers, or the equivalent? If so, is this a way to separate “mainline” from those who choose another interpretation?

Still just asking…

I’ll try to dig up a cite. At least in the US, Catholics have among the lowest amount of belief in creationism. Episcopalians/Anglicans are the same or just slightly more. Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Baptists follow roughly in that order.

Many religions aren’t monolithic. You would find much higher belief in creationism among the Lutheran Missouri Synod than the ELCA.

At the forum attached to a gun auction site it’s frightening to see the number of posters who believe in Creationism. It’s almost as frightening as their spelling! :stuck_out_tongue:

I think you would have to do a very detailed survey, with people describing their own beliefs, to really find out. A lot of people will say ‘creationism’ to mean all sorts of different ideas–

–YEC of 7 days of 24 hours
–Creation took a long long time
–God guided everything from behind the scenes, but not so you can tell
–I haven’t thought about it at all, nor do I care, but I believe in God, so that’s creationism right?
–God started everything, let it all work itself out, and then put souls into Adam and Eve

There isn’t a nice neat little list of 3 options where you can check one off and count exact numbers. People have all sorts of ideas, and a lot of them aren’t worried about it at all.

Keep in mind that it can take several hours for an expert to notice a thread in GQ, and this subject does not lend itself as well to definite answers as many others do.

Raised presbyterian, currently a practicing Lutheran.

I don’t believe in the biblical creationism story. I do believe that God set in motion the chain of events starting with the big bang (or whatever preceded even that), and created the universe that way. Scientific discovery is more a ‘how’ it happened than anything. I believe in evolution, and none of the scientific discoveries conflict with my religious beliefs, as I have a very loose interpretation of the bible as far as how mysterious things were described.

This should probably be an IMHO question, though.

Captain Carrot, welcome back! Yes, I am patient.

dangermom, I agree it is (or can be) a complex issue with multiple nuances. But I suspect somebody somewhere has already done such a survey. After all, we all seem agreed that ‘creationism’ (loosely defined) is a minority position. thelurkinghorror even provides a ranking. We all must have some reason for this belief. But none of us can (yet) provide a cite for it.

Thanks again. Off to work now, will check back later.

I can’t find the original paper that ranked them, but here’s a similar one (pdf). It rolls Protestants into either Fundamentalist or Nonfundamentalist. It divides general belief in evolution into specific beliefs.

Wikipedia here has a good summary on specific religions.

religioustolerance.org has an essay on this topic: Beliefs within Christian Faith Groups about Origins.

Polling Report has some data regarding beliefs in this subject. Somewhere between 40-50% of those polled (this is US only, not globally) believe that God created man in our present form sometime in the last 10,000 years. The last poll in the section states that 44% believe that God created the world in six days, as per a literal interpretation of Genesis. Note that they were given an option to say “Well, God was involved in the creation of the universe…” but only 13% took that option vs 44% for a strict approach.

As noted, there’s no strong Catholic push for “Creationism” in the strict sense. The Vatican runs some observatories and is quite open in saying that the universe is billions of years old. They seem open to the idea of evolution for the animal kingdom. However, the Vatican maintains that mankind’s development (and our being imbued with a soul) is a direct result of divine intervention in the evolutionary process.

Is any time frame given in the Bible for how long Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden? I believe there is none in Genesis, but does the Bible indicate elsewhere how long they lived “pre-sin”?

I’m asking because I have heard the assertion that Adam and Eve could have lived there “zillions” of years, so to speak, with evolution and speciation(is that the right word?) going on around them.

Their ages(900+ years) would have started counting from the moment they sinned.

Is this a common view? Does the Bible contradict it?

Related column from Cecil: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2680/nearly-half-the-u-s-population-believes-the-earth-is-less-than-10-000-years-old

Not really, since we are looking for facts about percentages of religionists who ascribe to certain beliefs, not the opinions of particular individuals such as your post.

Thank you all.

Excellent cites, these really help to flesh out the discussion. (thelurkinghorror, Jophiel and Una Persson especially) The polling data itself serves to support the premise (creationism is a minority view) although narrowly. If nothing else, we can at least separate out Catholicism. What about its derivative, the Church of England?

And still no numbers of Christians of other specific denominations, USA and elsewhere. Merely further reinforcement of the discussion relating to “mainstream” versus non-mainstream views.

I’d like eventually to be able to provide an analysis like:

total Christians worldwide = X number
of X, Z% are Roman Catholic, viewpoint is ‘Genesis is not literal history’
of X, Q% are “Liberal Lutheran”, viewpoint is ‘Genesis is not literal’
of X, R% are “Fundamental Lutheran”, viewpoint is ‘Genesis is literal’ (I’m making these up for illustration)
etc, etc, etc to summarise at least most of X.

I’ll do some more googling of my own and see what we can all find.